An employee at a Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso, Texas has been diagnosed with an active case of the contagious respiratory disease tuberculosis (TB), causing panic in the area about how widely it has spread.
The infected person worked in the nursery of the hospital, exposing over 700 newborn babies and 43 co-workers to the deadly disease.
The hospital posted letter to the families of babies who passed through the hospital in the last year, urging them to be screened for infection.
“TB is a serious but treatable disease that is spread through the air,” the hospital wrote.
“Although TB is not easy to catch from another person, we want to be extra sure that your child is examined.”
TB is an airborne disease that primarily affects the lungs, creating little holes in the lung tissue, but can lie dormant for years without any symptoms. As soon as the disease becomes active it is very deadly, and is easily spread through coughing and sneezing.
Though TB is treatable by antibiotics, babies and young children are particularly vulnerable due to their weaker immune systems. Symptoms include a chronic cough where blood is coughed up, fever, chest pain and weight loss.
All the hospital workers have been screened and luckily tested negative for the disease. The hospital is now waiting for parents to bring their children to be tested and hopefully cleared.